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The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) was created in 1987 to advise the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on health care issues impacting rural communities, including: 

  • Access to quality health care and health professionals; 
  • Viability of rural hospitals; and 
  • Effect of the Department’s proposed rules and regulations, including Medicare and Medicaid, on access to and financing of health care in rural areas. 

In line with the mission of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), FORHP helps increase access to care for underserved populations and build health care capacity through several programs:

  • Community Based Division (CBD) – Provides support to community organizations to improve health service delivery and strengthen health networks, and encourages collaboration among rural health care providers.
  • Hospital State Division (HSD) – Supports on-going improvements in care to 50 State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) and to rural hospitals through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex). HSD also supports technical assistance for small rural hospitals, including Critical Access Hospitals.
  • Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) – Provides funding for telehealth grants and resource centers, as well as supporting efforts to align licensing and portability activities across states.
  • Policy Research Division (PRD) – Coordinates the review of proposed regulations to assess the potential impact on rural health care delivery and financing,  The division also supports eight Rural Health Research Centers across the country and staffs the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services.
  • Rural Strategic Initiatives Division (RSID) – Plans and coordinates new rural program initiatives created as a result of agency, Department, and/or Administration priorities.  RSID currently manages the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Initiative and provides support to rural Tribal communities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
Date Last Reviewed:  October 2020


FORHP funds the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIHub) HRSA Exit Disclaimer, formerly the Rural Assistance Center, which offers information, resources, and technical assistance for rural community health organizations, providers, and government health officials at both state and local levels.

Defining Rural Health

State Offices of Rural Health

National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services

Rural Health Resource Guide